Nola Rae, Exit Napoleon - Pursued by Rabbits

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

It starts slowly. In her customary fashion, Nola Rae arrives on stage from the auditorium, a Michelin-man bundle of clothes and blankets with clattering culinary objects dangling from her rabbit-bellied body. She settles herself on stage, then takes her time establishing her buffoonish army-cook clown character, with a great deal of play with her kit-bag contents – which includes the first of many mangy rabbits that will eventually strew the stage. Having played the knapsack contents to the full, she then investigates the tent that is the centrepiece of the stage – Napoleon’s tent, we are to assume.

At first it would appear (from the boots sticking out of the end of the bed) that the tent is occupied – but no… Having ascertained that the great dictator (mark I) isn’t actually there – the clown-cook steps into his boots. S/he then discovers the audience – toy soldiers to play with who are mimed orders to turn tricks – stand, sit, applaud. S/he then takes this further – finding a Josephine from the audience to place on a pedestal, dance with and pop into the bed. The Josephine is totally at ease on stage – a testament to Nola Rae’s expertise in the management of performer/audience interaction. Rae says goodbye to her Josephine and retreats further into the tent, and to fantasies of the glories and sorrows of war which reference Chaplin’s Great Dictator and evoke recently-seen media images of war and siege.

It’s a hard act to pull off – a full-length wordless one-person show. But it’s Nola Rae, so it works – it’s hard to think of anyone else who could manage such a feat of endurance.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 27